First off, a quick thank you to everyone who participated in the epic discussion of last week's review for The Dark Knight. In depth conversations for excellent movies was one of the many reasons this article was started, so thanks to everyone who made the threads as big as they were.
In theaters this weekend is Will Ferrell's new comedy, Step Brothers. The movie was Directed and co-written by Adam McKay, the yin to Ferrell's yang, who also wrote/directed Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Internet sensation, The Landlord. Ferrell co-wrote, and stars alongside John C. Reilly as two boys who never grew up, still living with their single parents at age 40.
Lets get something straight right here: Will Ferrell used to be hilarious, but has been on a slow, annoying, downward slope after leaving SNL, playing basically the exact same character in every movie he's done. He is in a sense, dangerously close to turning into a white version of Eddie Murphy, but without the tranny scandals. It's not all bad, though. Anchorman deserves every bit of praise it has ever received for being an excellent comedy, but Elf, Kicking & Screaming, Bewitched, Curious George, Talladega Nights, Blades of Glory, and Semi-Pro (damn that's a long list) are nothing more than sad attempts at trying to live up to the greatness and popularity of Anchorman.
Step Brothers is pretty much everything you would expect in a comedy co-written by and starring Ferrell, but fortunately, the movie isn't a complete failure like the previously mentioned list. First of all, this movie does not suffer from 'trailer-itis'. For those of you unfamiliar, trailer-itis is when you see a film that has revealed every one of its funny jokes and scenes in the trailers, leaving you with a disappointing theater going experience. When I first saw previews for Step Brothers, I was pretty sure that they had given away every funny moment already (bunk bed collapsing, John C. Reilly gets buried in the front lawn, yadda yadda yadda). Luckily, I was wrong. In fact, this movie's one true ace in the hole is that it's literally almost impossible to predict what will happen or be said next, by any character. In terms of dialogue and event sequence, it's pretty much one of the most random films I have ever seen, and that's saying a lot.
Unfortunately, there are lots of times where it's painfully obvious that Will Ferrell was writing the script (moments of inspiration to Ferrell's character = "I feel like lightning just hit the tip of my dick"). In all honesty, I thought this movie finally WAS the next Anchorman, up until halfway through, when the story basically collapsed into itself like a black hole of disappointment. Dr. Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins) meets Nancy Huff (Mary Steenburgen) at a work related conference and they instantly hit it off. Before you know it, they're married and moving into the Doback house, where unemployed Dale Doback (John C. Reilly) continues to live in his 12 year old style room. Along with Nancy is her unemployed son, Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) who, like Dale, acts like a 40 year-old man with a pre-pubescent brain. The newly wed parents are planning their retirement so they can live their dream of sailing around the world together. However, their border-line retarded sons can't help but keep setting these plans back with their territorial issues towards one another.
The absolute randomness of the brothers hating each other is hilarious. As I said earlier, this movie's only strong point is that everything is so out of left field that it's almost impossible to not laugh at certain scenes. For example, we've all seen the scene in the previews where John C. Reilly shouts at Ferrell to never ever touch his drum set, cut to Ferrell playing them wildly, followed by denying it later. What they don't show is that during the "you so touched my drums" scene, Ferrell gets angry to the point where he runs upstairs and actually rubs his balls (yes, they show it. I'm hoping to God it was fake, but if it is, kudos on making the most realistic looking sack I've ever seen) all over the drums.
Random moments of humor like that actually make the movie pretty funny, but once the parents' marriage becomes rocky and Ferrell/Reilly try to turn their acts around, the whole thing loses its edge. It's not because I don't like the sappiness of "lets try to make everything right again!", its just that the script pushes the envelope of "wtf?" more and more. I'm pretty sure that when they were sitting around writing this movie, everyone involved in the writing process was heavily baked. It started off really funny, as most ideas do when in that mental state, but after a few more hits you go from funny and creatively influenced to "ohhh man yeah! And then and then THIS should happen!!" Sounds really good at the time, but then the next morning when you step back and look at it, it isn't as funny as you remember. Eventually all the lines in the movie, even the ones delivered by the serious characters like Mary Steenburgen and Richard Jenkins, sound like they were written by Will Ferrell, for Will Ferrell (ex: "Fuckin Catalina wine mixer!"). Realistically you have to go in expecting him to do things like kick pumpkins and swear every 3 seconds, but a lot of scenes towards the end make you wonder, if every character in this movie was played by Ferrell, would it sound any different? It's almost as if every actor decided halfway through they wanted to start doing scenes just like him when it doesn't fit their character, and that's what makes it all so offsetting.
Bottom Line: Much like the NY Mets, this movie starts off strong and finishes hella' weak (amiright?? tapdances). Seriously though, I'll give the movie credit for making me laugh simply by catching me off-guard more than a dozen times with some cheap material, but the farther it goes, the stupider it gets, and not in a good way. However, if you feel like turning your brain off for a while to enjoy some random jokes, go for it, I promise you'll laugh at least a couple times.
Grade: Step Brothers had the potential to break away from the pack, but fell short due to a sloppy second half. In the end, it's just a little bit better than the average Ferrell comedy. C Plus
Next up is 'Pineapple Express', followed by 'The Rocker'. As always, send it all to CHmoviereview@gmail.com.